Buying Generic: An Undervalued 2B

Many times in fantasy baseball owners fall victim to name brands. While having familiarity with a player is necessary, often we don’t dive deeply enough into a player’s performance to get a clear idea of how much more valuable he is than his peers. Due to this, we will often pay more for something than we otherwise would if we were truly aware of it’s value. Today, I want to talk about the 2B position and one name brand that will likely cost much more in your annual Ottoneu auctions, or in trades, than a much cheaper generic option.

2016 Results: Name Brand v. Generic
Name Avg $ PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA xOBA wRC+
Mr. Name Brand $22.00 688 8.70% 21.20% 0.193 0.324 0.275 0.343 0.469 0.347 0.339 117
Mr. Generic $6.00 567 8.10% 22.40% 0.180 0.314 0.264 0.333 0.444 0.336 0.351 113
SOURCE: xOBA courtesy of Andrew Perpetua at xStats.org

Any guesses? While the two players are strikingly similar, Mr. Name Brand certainly played more, with about 120 extra PAs over our and more power than Mr. Generic. However, the price difference is immediately evident. Across Ottoneu leagues, owners paid $16 more for our name brand option for roughly equal production across the board. The K/BB numbers are nearly identical, with both producing good power and higher than average BABIP results. While Mr. Name Brand bested Mr. Generic by 11 points of wOBA, xOBA (a statcast based  equivalent for  wOBA based on expected batted ball results) actually had our generic option with a 12 point advantage.  Final answers? Going once… twice?

Jason Kipnis is our name brand. Logan Forsythe, he’s our generic option. This year Kipnis finally made good on the power people assumed was present throughout his career – doubling his HR rate last year to pop 23 dingers. However, everything has a price and that trade off for power appears to have cost him an increase in strikeouts and worse results on batted balls. He’s still a good option and I would happily own him on my teams, but at $22 it may be best to look elsewhere. Last month Paul Sporer ranked him as the 6th best 2B in his first run at 2017 2B rankings. Logan Forsythe; he was a footnote in those rankings. This lays out pretty clearly what I have seen in my leagues. Kipnis is viewed as an upper middle tier option, while Forsythe is role player. Digging a little deeper into their batted ball results the similarities are even more striking.

2016 Batted Ball Results
Name AvgEV Vertical LD% GB% FB% HR/FB Pull% Cent% Oppo%
Logan Forsythe 90.6 12.3 22.80% 42.00% 35.20% 14.70% 39.10% 32.90% 28.00%
Jason Kipnis 90.3 12.9 23.70% 38.90% 37.40% 13.10% 40.80% 35.10% 24.20%
SOURCE: Statcast

That’s about as similar of a batted ball profile as you’ll find, which bodes well for our cheaper option. We should note Kipnis’ 2016 power spike, he pulled the bull 5% more than he had in prior years. Maybe he reverts back to his 2012-2015 ways in 2017, but if he does, it will likely be at the sacrifice of his newly gained power for the benefit of a higher average. By comparison, Forsythe has been extremely consistent over the past few seasons by batted balls. Given the changes Kipnis has shown, it is entirely possible he decides not to pull the ball as often in 2017. Because of this, I would use the 2016 version of Kipnis as my baseline comparison for Forsythe.

2016 Plate Discipline Results
Name O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% SwStr%
Logan Forsythe 22.10% 58.70% 39.60% 64.70% 85.40% 79.40% 47.70% 62.80% 8.20%
Jason Kipnis 27.50% 62.00% 43.00% 66.90% 90.00% 81.90% 44.90% 55.20% 7.80%
Top 25 by wOBA: Second Base 2017 Steamer
Rank Name Team G PA AB HR SB AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA wRC+
1 Daniel Murphy Nationals 146 608 559 15 6 0.316 0.362 0.482 0.844 0.357 121
2 Jose Altuve Astros 149 666 604 16 28 0.312 0.365 0.465 0.83 0.353 124
3 Matt Carpenter Cardinals 146 660 557 18 5 0.268 0.37 0.445 0.815 0.352 120
4 Robinson Cano Mariners 146 634 576 24 2 0.288 0.344 0.471 0.815 0.346 121
6 DJ LeMahieu Rockies 149 629 563 9 13 0.308 0.368 0.425 0.794 0.344 96
7 Ben Zobrist Cubs 143 617 528 15 6 0.269 0.365 0.425 0.79 0.343 113
8 Steve Pearce Blue Jays 102 425 375 18 3 0.258 0.336 0.468 0.803 0.343 114
9 Rougned Odor Rangers 146 601 559 26 13 0.275 0.314 0.486 0.8 0.339 108
10 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 146 653 582 13 6 0.289 0.354 0.417 0.771 0.336 105
11 Brian Dozier Twins 150 669 586 27 13 0.247 0.33 0.449 0.779 0.333 107
12 Neil Walker Mets 133 559 498 21 3 0.261 0.332 0.442 0.774 0.332 109
13 Jason Kipnis Indians 146 650 574 15 13 0.267 0.341 0.415 0.757 0.328 104
14 Derek Dietrich Marlins 103 424 371 11 2 0.253 0.335 0.413 0.748 0.325 102
15 Joe Panik Giants 141 607 541 10 5 0.276 0.343 0.4 0.744 0.323 104
16 Yangervis Solarte Padres 122 499 451 13 2 0.268 0.328 0.415 0.743 0.322 102
17 Jedd Gyorko Cardinals 111 450 407 20 2 0.249 0.311 0.443 0.753 0.322 100
18 Howie Kendrick Phillies 120 503 455 9 7 0.279 0.337 0.403 0.74 0.321 98
19 Ian Kinsler Tigers 144 652 594 17 11 0.268 0.321 0.42 0.741 0.320 98
20 Rob Refsnyder Yankees 31 122 109 2 2 0.274 0.341 0.395 0.736 0.320 99
21 Logan Forsythe Rays 122 529 469 14 7 0.254 0.328 0.405 0.733 0.319 102
22 Wilmer Flores Mets 58 232 214 9 1 0.264 0.309 0.439 0.748 0.319 101
23 Jonathan Villar Brewers 130 562 494 13 43 0.255 0.333 0.397 0.73 0.318 93
24 Devon Travis Blue Jays 122 508 468 12 6 0.274 0.318 0.418 0.736 0.317 96
25 Jonathan Schoop Orioles 130 516 484 21 3 0.261 0.296 0.449 0.744 0.317 95

Because of this apparent difference in expected future performance, I would wager that Kipnis will be held more closely than Forsythe – both due to projections, as well as familiarity with his name brand. Certainly given equal costs, I would prefer Kipnis, however when the average price difference between the two is $16, I would take the generic option in Forsythe without hesitation. Their 2016 seasons were extremely similar, and I would place some weight on the publicly available Statcast data when trying to project 2017 performance.

 



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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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Big Jgke
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Big Jgke

Isn’t the real takeaway here that Steamer thinks Steve Pearce is better than either of these guys?

tuna411
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Member
tuna411

But steve pearce has never reached 20 games at 2b in a season in his major league career. He had 15 games in 2016 though, so I suppose once every ten games makes him a second sacker…